Coast Guard Cutter Healy Gets New C.O., Departs for Arctic

Capt. Kenneth Boda (left) shakes hands with Capt. Michele Schallip (right) concluding a change of command ceremony aboard Coast Guard cutter Healy on June 29, 2023, at Base Seattle. Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (center), presided over the ceremony which was held to officially pass the duties and responsibilities of the Commanding Officer of Healy from Boda to Schallip. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Clark.

Capt. Michele Schallip on June 29 returned for a second tour as commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy, one of two active icebreakers homeported in Seattle.

Commissioned in 1999, the Healy is the newest, largest and most technologically advanced icebreaker in the Coast Guard’s fleet.

Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant of the US. Coast Guard presided over the change of command ceremonies in Seattle in which Schallip relieved Capt. Kenneth Boda as commanding officer. Schallip previously served as the ship’s executive officer from 2018 to 2020. Boda served as the Healy’s commanding officer from June 2021 to June 2023.

Twice during Boda’s tenure, the Healy was deployed to the Arctic region, including trips to circumnavigate North America and to transit the geographic North Pole, in support of oceanographic and climate research.

Hundreds of science station operations were completed in support of the Arctic Mobile Observing System and Synoptic Arctic survey, including mapping of the ocean floor, 281 connectivity, temperature and depth casts, and 437 over-the-side science instrument deployments.

Boda said that as a career icebreaker sailor, two years aboard the Healy was a highlight of his Coast Guard career.

“I was very fortunate to sail with such a talented crew to some of the most inaccessible and fascinating places on the planet,” Boda said. “We conducted oceanographic research that advanced scientific understanding of the earth’s climate system, and projected United States sea power to the high Arctic.”

On July 11, the cutter departed Seattle for a months-long Arctic deployment. As part of the operation, the icebreaker is to provide U.S. surface presence in the region, conduct high latitude science and research missions, engage in exercises and professional exchanges with foreign partners, plus conduct other operations as directed, according to the Coast Guard.

Healy’s deployment supports the Coast Guard’s Arctic Strategy while providing critical training opportunities for Polar sailors and future operations in the Arctic, the Coast Guard explained in a statement.

“Our deployment will support scientific exploration to increase understanding of the changing Arctic environment and associated impacts,” Schallip explained. “We’ll also have opportunities to deepen the Coast Guard’s cooperation with our allies, and partner nations through engagements and joint exercises to promote regional stability, security and strengthen our collaborative partnerships.”

The Healy deploys annually to the Arctic to support multiple science missions and Operation Arctic Shield, the service’s annual operation to execute U.S. Coast Guard missions, enhance maritime domain awareness and build preparedness, prevention, and response capabilities across the region.

Commissioned in 2000, Healy is one of two active polar icebreakers in the Coast Guard’s fleet. The Seattle-based Coast Guard cutter Polar Star is a Polar icebreaker commissioned in 1976.

The Coast Guard has said that it’s recapitalizing its Polar icebreaker fleet to ensure “continued access to both Polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.”